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Are You Ready For a Long, Cold, Snowy Winter? More Importantly, Is Your Home Prepared and Winter-Proofed?
With a devastating snowstorm hitting South Dakota in early October and freezing temperatures recorded this week in Chicago, the Farmers’ Almanac predictions of a frigid winter and heavy snow for the 2013–2014 winter season in the U.S., are looking right on-target.
Many winter-related disasters can be prevented if you take a few simple steps to protect your home from freezing temperatures, snow and wind. And autumn is the perfect time to winter-proof your home, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Standard homeowners policies cover winter-related disasters such as burst pipes, ice dams and wind damage caused by weight of ice or snow, as well as fire-related losses. Coverage for flooding is available from the National Flood Insurance Program and from some private insurance companies. Winter-related damage to cars is generally covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.
Melting snow can inflict significant damage to property and winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses, noted the I.I.I. Winter storms caused $38 million in insured losses in 2012, according to Munich Re. An ISO study shows that from 1992-2011, winter storms resulted in about $28 billion in insured catastrophe losses (in 2011 dollars), or more than $1 billion a year on average.
The I.I.I. offers the following tips to prepare your home for the upcoming winter at
And our tip is for you to stop by our agency for a no-obligation review of all your insurance needs.
If you're running a business from your home, you may not have enough insurance to protect your business equipment. A typical homeowners policy provides only $2,500 coverage for business equipment, which is usually not enough to cover all of your business property. You may also need coverage for liability and lost income. Insurance companies differ considerably in the types of business operations they will cover under the various options they offer. So it's wise to shop around for coverage options as well as price.
Regardless of the type of policy you choose, if you're a professional working out of your home, you probably need professional liability insurance. Some types of in-home businesses, such as those that make or sell food products or sell home-made personal care products, may have to buy special policies.
Please feel free to contact our office for a no-obligation review of all your insurance needs.
For many people, their home is their greatest asset, so it is crucial to avoid being underinsured. To protect their investment from disasters, homeowners should update their insurance regularly to include improvements, major purchases and increased rebuilding costs.
Since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, despite the major drop off in construction activity, construction prices have actually risen significantly. Furthermore, after a disaster, materials and labor may become scare, driving repair and rebuilding costs up even further.
To properly insure your home, it is important to ask your insurance agent or company representative four key questions.
Identity theft is the act of taking someone’s personal information and using it to impersonate a victim, steal from bank accounts, establish phony insurance policies, open unauthorized credit cards or obtain unauthorized bank loans. In some more elaborate schemes, criminals use the stolen personal information to get a job, rent a home or take out a mortgage in the victim’s name.
Close to half of identity theft cases are the result of a lost or stolen wallet, checkbook, credit card or other physical document. But as online shopping becomes increasing popular, it can also pose an identity risk.
Victims of identity theft are often left with lower credit scores and spend months or even years getting credit records corrected. They frequently have difficulty getting credit, obtaining loans and even finding employment. Victims of identity theft fraud often travel a long and frustrating road to recovery; depending on the severity of the identity theft fraud damage, the recovery process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years.
Most homeowners and renters policies provide coverage for theft of money or credit cards; however, the amount of coverage is limited (usually $200 in cash and $50 on credit cards). Once you have reported the loss or theft of your credit card to the issuing company, you are responsible for only $50 of unauthorized use.
Some companies now include coverage for identity theft as part of their homeowners insurance policy. Check your policy to find out. Others sell it as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a homeowners or renters insurance policy which can run about $25-$50 annually. Identity theft insurance provides reimbursement to crime victims for the cost of restoring their identity and repairing credit reports. It generally covers expenses such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs, and sometimes attorney fees (with the prior consent of the insurer). Some companies also offer restoration or resolution services that will guide you through the process of recovering your identity.
Summer vacation — for most people, this phrase conjures images of sandy beaches, amusement parks, lakeside cabins, or family road trips.
For burglars, summer vacations are the perfect opportunity to take advantage of unoccupied homes and garages. In fact, property crimes spike during summer months, peaking in July and August.
Here are a few tips for protecting your home while you’re gone this summer:
Before you leave, double check that all doors and windows are locked. Don’t forget the upstairs windows: AC units, ladders, nearby trees, and even garbage cans can give thieves access to those windows. Trim or remove shrubs that offer easy hiding places. Don’t leave spare keys outside; thieves know where to look, too.
Don’t post vacation plans on social media sites. You can’t completely control who sees your updates, regardless of your privacy settings. Have a trusted friend periodically check your home, but resist the temptation to announce your departure on the Internet.
Leave the light on.
Make it appear you haven’t left home at all. Stop your mail, or have a friend or neighbor collect it. Have someone mow your lawn if you’ll be away for a longer period of time. Set timers for inside lights or even a television. Don’t leave a porch light on continuously, though, as that could signal that you’re not home. Instead, install motion-sensing floodlights, even on the sides of your home. Many homeowners light up the front and back of their houses, but leave the sides dark, making it more inviting to burglars.
Don’t forget tiny invaders.
Bugs can also take advantage of empty homes. Before you leave, make sure all trashcans are emptied and cleaned. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, and wipe any stray crumbs from kitchen countertops. Many bugs come inside in search of water, so fix any leaks before you leave.
Insurance companies have reports that could mean the difference of hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year in premium. You need to know what's in this reports and if the information is accurate.
The report is called Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange or C.L.U.E.
Insurance companies use it to decide how high-risk your insurance profile is. They could raise your rates or deny you coverage based on that information.
The C.L.U.E. Personal Property report provides a seven year history of losses associated with an individual and his/her personal property. The following data will be identified for each loss: date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name.
Run you r free reports at C.L.U.E. Bundle Report
A House Divided: Your Guide to Insurance Needs Following a Divorce or Separation: Homeowners and Renters Insurance
Whether you are married or living with a partner, the process of ending a relationship can be extremely complicated. Many aspects of your life will be affected, including your insurance needs, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
“When discussing the financial aspects of a divorce or a break-up, insurance considerations should be a key component in ongoing and final decisions,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. “Dividing up property, changing homes, and altering life insurance policies must be discussed to make sure that both parties, as well as children or other dependents, are financially protected after the separation is completed.”
The I.I.I. suggests couples review the following coverages if they plan to separate or divorce:
2. Homeowners and Renters Insurance
Divorce and separation will generally result in a change of residence as well in moving personal items from one location to another. You will need to determine if one party will be staying in the current home or if both parties are moving into new residences. Regardless of where you will be living after the separation, make sure to get the proper type and amount of homeowners or renters insurance for your new house or apartment.
Personal possessions are also going to be divided between the parties. It is important that each person let their insurance company know the value of their possessions in their new home. If one party retains valuable jewelry, art or other luxury items in the settlement, they should inform the insurer whether to cancel or add any special floaters or endorsements to the policy for these items. Having an up-to-date home inventory, can help with this process; and each person should now take steps to create their own inventory once the belongings have been divided. An inventory can help you purchase the correct amount of insurance and speed up the claims process when there is a loss. To make creating your inventory as easy as possible, you can use the I.I.I.’s free Web-based home inventory software and app, Know Your Stuff® - Home Inventory.
Private insurers long ago stopped covering flood damage, so homeowners have to purchase it through the National Flood Insurance Program.
There are two problems with that. One, many people outside high-risk zones don't have it -- including some who probably should. Two, the federal program maxes out coverage at $250,000 for the dwelling and $100,000 for your personal property, which could easily fall short of the amount needed to rebuild your home.
Flood insurance also has its own restrictions. Among them: It won't replace trees, decks, and pools, or help you fix your finished basement. It won't pay for personal property or for living expenses you incur while your home is uninhabitable. And as homeowners affected by storms Irene and Sandy in the Northeast have discovered, some claims are being denied if even an inch of the first floor is below ground.
Getting stuck with only $250,000 in coverage could happen more often than you imagine. When damage results from both wind and flooding -- as in most big storms -- insurers want proof that they, and not flood insurance, should pay. After Hurricane Katrina reduced thousands of homes to mere slabs, insurers simply denied claims because there was no proof the damage wasn't caused by flood (courts overturned most of those denials).
Contact our office for a no-obligation review of all your insurance needs.
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